Cider House - http://www.theciderhouse.com.au/  (Invite Event)

Quick Thoughts: You might notice from the photos above that there were essentially three different cuisines from the same restaurant.  In my humble opinion, this is typically restaurant suicide but Cider House have been really lucky in being able to hire a great chef behind the kitchen, and all the food was actually pretty darn good. 

We were offered the four courses, braised pork & lemongass steamed buns, the Cider House mezze plate, red curry fried chicken wings, farmer’s market salad and the crying tiger, that being the grass fed porterhouse served rare with chilli & lime dipping sauce.

You could see everything was meticulously prepared, they also do healthy style salads, and most (if not all) of the ingredients are organic. There’s potential here and the food is great, they just need to focus on finding an identity.

Thanks to Cider House and Harvey Publicity for organising the event.

In a Sentence: Don’t be scared off by the all encompassing menu, there’s good food to be found here.

Verdict: Would Go Back.

Cider House on Urbanspoon

Stagger Lee - http://staggerlees.com.au/

Quick Thoughts: Stagger Lee definitely has not staggered onto the Melbourne restaurant scene, in fact quite the opposite, it definitely feels well thought out and planned and the fact that it drummed up so much publicity initially definitely showed how much care they put into producing a new cafe (whilst also injecting some much needed energy onto the Brunswick St brunch scene - save for Hammer & Tong).

While Proud Mary (the same owners as Stagger Lee) was ground breaking for its time and remains a godfather of the Melbourne brunch scene, they couldn’t quite catch lightning twice with Stagger Lee. It’s a strange feeling when the food reads quite creatively off the menu and yet feels uninspired once it hits your tastebuds. Also $10 for a milkshake?! Sure it’s flavoured creatively and is basically liquid ice cream, but damn, Stagger’s probably breaking the wrong ground here.

In a Sentence: Wait for the lines to die down to give it a shot.

Verdict: Worth Trying

Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

Fonda - http://www.fondamexican.com.au/

Quick Thoughts: Offering tasty modernised Mexican food, yeah you read right, that’s quinoa in the burrito, in a clean space that makes you order at the counter (still not entirely sure about that one), Fonda manages to separate itself from the ‘typical’ Mexican restaurants whilst sitting itself somewhere between Mad Mex and Mamasita. Thankfully too, as they’re not on MamaSita’s level and definitely better than the Mad Mex and Guzman y Gomez’. They’re also relatively budget friendly, which is a nice change as Melbourne seems to be crazy about paying far too much for what would be cheap native food in their respective countries.

In a Sentence: Order the fish burrito, trust me.

Verdict: Would Go Back.

Fonda on Urbanspoon

Hellenic Republic - http://www.hellenicrepublic.com.au/

Quick Thoughts: Possibly overshadowed by its twin (and original) restaurant in Brunswick, Hellenic Republic Kew still more than shows its flare for modernised traditional greek food. While the Hellenic in Brunswick might be better suited for a date, the Kew version keeps it relatively family friendly without losing any of its substance. They also offer a menu that includes food that’s been cooked over coals, however I just wish they would bring back the grilled baby octopus! (Originally sampled at Brunswick) 

In a Sentence: Bring your family to Kew, go to Brunswick on date night.

Verdict: Legit.

Hellenic Republic Kew on Urbanspoon

Captain Melville - http://www.captainmelville.com.au/

Quick Thoughts: On the outskirts of the city lies this little gem where all their food is sourced from ethical and sustainable farms at a reasonable price! Think refined pub food with a few twists and turns (in a good way) here and there. Their fried chicken was especially tasty, standing right alongside some of Melbourne’s finest. The menu was designed to be shared, but they do cater to those who enjoy a meal all to themselves. Can’t say no to pub grub!

In a Sentence: Maybe the best pub in the city

Verdict: Would Go Back

Captain Melville on Urbanspoon